Sitharaman, Manmohan in war of words over state of Indian economy

Loans given on crony calls during Singh Rajan term Nirmala Sitharaman hits back

Nirmala Sitharaman in New York Tuesday

"You can not claim year after year that the fault lies with the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), you have been in office for five and half years and that is long enough period for a government committed to public welfare to do some credible things. It should have learnt from our mistakes and provided solutions", he said.

Asked about the BJP's poll promise of a Bharat Ratna for V.D. Savarkar, who was an accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case but acquitted, Singh said the Congress only opposes Savarkar's Hindutva ideology. We've not given any loans to cronies.

"If there is a charge against us that we have not given a cohesive narrative about the economy, I'm sorry, probably it has not even reached the narrative that we're given about the economy or the target with which we are working or the response with which we are answering those stress in different parts of the country, those industries which are under stress, those messages have probably not even reached people who have commented on us", the finance minister said. "I wish the Congress Party had the courage of conviction to hear it [criticism] loud and clear", she said, adding that her government doesn't given loans to cronies or look the other way.

On Tuesday, Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Indian public sector banks (PSBs) had the "worst phase" under Manmohan Singh's regime. She was responding to a question on Rajan's earlier comment that the Narendra Modi government has not done well on the economy because it was extremely centralized and the leadership did not appear to have a consistent articulated vision on how to achieve economic growth. "But recalling when and what went wrong during a certain period is absolutely necessary to put it in context, now that I'm being charged that there's no narrative at all about the economy", Sitharaman told a group of Indian reporters here on Thursday.

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"I have no reason to doubt that Rajan feels for every word of what he is saying".

The former PM was reacting to a recent statement by Sitharaman that public sector banks endured their worst phase during his and ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan's tenure. The BJP Minister said, "We do not subscribe to what Manmohan Singh has analysed".

Responding to her comments, Singh on Thursday said the government should stop blaming the opposition.

"I have just seen the statements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman".

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Earlier, he said, "Before one can fix the economy, one needs a correct diagnosis of its ailments".

"The government is obsessed with trying to fix blame on its opponent, thus it is unable to find a solution that will ensure revival of the economy".

"I have said this publicly before that to reach a goal of five trillion dollar by 2024, as against 2.7 trillion dollars that we had in 2018, would require a growth rate of 10-12 per cent per annum. Manufacturing growth rate of Maharashtra has been declining for 4th consecutive years", said Singh. "International Monetary Fund has reduced the growth for India and other countries despite of the fact India is still growing faster", she added.

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